Catch your breath. Rest up while you can. We’re on the precipice of what looks to be one of the most important chapters for work in our lifetimes.
The US peak of new Omicron cases is now likely behind us. We should emerge with some protection from the virus as a result of vaccination or infection across the US population that—barring a new aggressive variant—should eventually allow us to resume normal activities and relegate Covid to the same level of concern in our lives as the seasonal flu.
This all means that we can expect this spring to shift back to offices on a broad scale, to resume business travel and attending in-person conferences, to reacquaint with colleagues or meet them for the first time, to adjust our family rhythms and responsibilities to the shift in demands from work.
Opportunities to reshape culture and norms are rare, and the question hanging over everything is: “What does the new normal look like?” This is the biggest test for managers and organizational leaders since the start of the pandemic. With a Great Return looming, there is lots of work ahead.
We’ve created a free checklist of what organizations need to do to be prepared, whether you’re a leader responsible or an employee looking to assess or support the progress.
This all is not to say that the past two years haven’t been their own challenging chapter for work, and many organizations have adapted impressively. Also, to be sure, the impact of the virus still is being painfully felt in homes and hospitals around the US, and a new variant could well show up that sends people scrambling back to their couches and kitchen tables. In addition, many of the core challenges—including those for caregivers who lack structural support—require broader societal and government efforts to address them.
But, with any luck, we’re on the cusp of a new phase where we have a unique opportunity to further redefine the future of work in ways that will last for years to come.